Oklahoma Democrats chose Saturday to give their party chairman another two-year stint in office instead of selecting a state senator who promised she would bring diversity to the party.
Wallace Collins, a former state representative from Norman, won a hotly contested race, defeating Sen. Constance Johnson, D-Forest Park. The vote was 326-214.
“It was kind of a dogfight and I kind of expected that,” Collins said after the votes were tallied. “For me to win out over a sitting senator as popular as she is … was a terrific victory. The party wants to have continuity.”
After losing her bid for chairman, Johnson made a bid for vice chairman. Incumbent Dana Orwig won re-election, 282-217. Wallace and Orwig, elected to their posts in 2011, ran as a team.
About 750 delegates showed up for the daylong convention at the Oklahoma City Marriott, 3233 Northwest Expressway. The gathering was much more orderly than two years ago when credentialing of delegates caused voting total irregularities, causing elections to drag on for several hours.
Collins said that during his tenure as chairman the Oklahoma Democratic Party completed the effort of his predecessors to pay off a $36,000 debt owed to the Internal Revenue Service since 2006.
Collins said the party has made efforts to reach out to various ethnic groups and races to recruit members, such as appearing in the Martin Luther King Jr. and gay pride parades in Oklahoma City, as well as taking part in festivals put on by the Asian and Hispanic communities in Oklahoma City.